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Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

This Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe is one that can be enjoyed as a side dish or a main dish meal. It’s packed with albacore tuna, elbow macaroni and fresh vegetables with a mouthwatering homemade dressing to pull it all together.


Easy Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

This type of classic simple macaroni salad can be seen at potlucks, picnics and family gatherings all throughout the South. To make it you’ll need a large pot or pasta cooker, a colander to drain the elbow macaroni, a small saucepan to boil the eggs, a sharp knife and cutting board to chop the vegetables, measuring cups and spoons and a large mixing bowl and silicone spatula or large spoon to mix it all together. You’ll also need a separate bowl and a whisk to mix together the ingredients for the homemade salad dressing. 


How to Make the BEST Southern Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Tuna Macaroni Salad with Peas: You’ll need canned tuna, boiled eggs, elbow macaroni, diced celery. red bell pepper, petite peas, red onion and green onion or smoked paprika for garnishing.
  • Kitchen tools you’ll need: A large bowl, sharp knife and cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, large pot or pasta cooker, silicone spatula or large spoon for stirring everything together. 
  • What’s in the homemade salad dressing? This dressing is mayonnaise based. So, you’ll need mayonnaise, buttermilk, pickle relish, salt, lemon pepper, granulated garlic, onion powder, sugar to balance the flavor, fresh or dried dill and a few dashes of hot sauce.
  • Can I use Miracle Whip for the dressing? You could adapt the dressing using Miracle Whip. Keep in mind, it’s sweeter than mayonnaise and you would likely need to omit the sugar.
  • What kind of tuna should I use? I use canned white albacore tuna packed in water for this salad.
  • Can I use another kind of pasta to make it? This salad is traditionally made with elbow macaroni. You could adapt using another small pasta if that’s what you have on hand.
  • How long will it last? Tuna macaroni salad should be served cold. You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • How do you make Tuna Macaroni Salad with no Mayo? A great alternative would be mashed and pureed avocado. It would add protein plus a delicious color to the the tuna salad overall. 
  • Can I freeze macaroni salad? I don’t recommend freezing this salad it changes the texture of all the ingredients and the dressing will breakdown when thawed.

More Macaroni Salad Recipes to Make

Pasta is inexpensive, readily available and able to be transformed into both side dishes and entrées with ease. You may also like to add these mouthwatering Southern salads to your supper and lunch rotation:


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Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Chill time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 311kcal


  • 3 5 oz cans white albacore tuna drained
  • 3 large eggs boiled and diced
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni cooked per package directions
  • 1 1/2 cup real mayonaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tsp salt or garlic saalt
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill OR 2 tsp fresh chopped fresh dill adapt to taste
  • few dashes hot sauce
  • 1 small red bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 small red onion finly diced
  • 1 rib celery diced
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas thawed
  • thinly sliced green onion or smoked paprika for garnishing


  • Cook macaroni in salted water per package directions until al dente. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl whisk together mayonnaise, buttermilk, pickle relish, salt, lemon pepper, granulated garlic, onion powder, sugar, dill and hot sauce.
  • To a large mixing bowl add macaroni, onion, red pepper, celery, peas and egg. Mix well.
  • Gently fold in dressing and tuna until evenly distributed.
  • Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
  • Garnish with chopped green onion or dust with paprika and serve.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 591mg | Potassium: 352mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 640IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 3mg
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